The minister stated that under an arrangement with the United States no tolls are charged on the canals. Would it not seem that Canada at the present time is keeping up more canals than the United States and that therefore it is a kind of one-sided bargain? Will that arrangement be
Supply-Railways and Canals
continued when the new Welland canal is completed? We will have probably $100,000,000 in the new Welland canal. Is that arrangement with the United States likely to be continued?
Unless some new arrangement is made, it will be continued. The tolls were removed from canals for the purpose of encouraging traffic through our own Canadian ports, and through our canals. It cannot be denied, I think, that every dollar you impose in tolls must come out of the produce or the cargo. There is no other way to pay it. The vessel owner will charge that much more in his expenses against the traffic that is being moved; eventually either the consignor or the consignee will pay it, and in those days it was thought wise, in the interests of the development of our country, that we should remove the tolls from the canal. My hon. friend is right. We have a greater investment in those canals, and Canadian vessels I think, outside of the canal at the Sault, do not use American canals to any great extent. But that is the arrangement between the two countries, and every year there has been no toll charged.
tolls put on first? It appears to me when we had free trade between the two countries there was no toll and we had free use of the canal. Even after the Americans abolished free trade and put a restriction on Canadian goods we had free use of her canals. Was there any particular time when the tolls were put on on the canals?
there were tolls on the canals. I can go that far, but I cannot give my hon. friend any information as to the date. My deputy tells me they were taken off in 1898.
Mr. .COOTE: When the Canadian ambassador to Washington is appointed will the ambassador take up with the United States the matter of sharing the expense of these canals and bearing their fair share for expense of operation? I think Canada is paying far more than her share for the construction and upkeep of the canals between the international lakes, and I think it is a matter that might very well be taken up with the government at Washington. As to tolls: if tolls are charged on the canal, the amount would would have to be added to the cost of the goods, to be paid by the people whose goods
were being transported. Is that not the place where the money should be collected, rather than from the taxpayers of the country? If this principle were to be adopted with regard to all our transportation, it seems to me it should naturally follow that we should build rights of way, keep them up, allow the railways to operate and charge sufficient to cover the cost of operation and keep the rolling stock in repair. Why should we furnish a free waterway for all these ships, to compete with our own railways, and make it so difficult for our railways to pay the cost of operation? We are furnishing the Trent canal free of tolls to the people who live in that neighbourhood, and certainly, if they are carrying any freight at all, they must come in competition with our railways. I think it is time this matter was carefully considered by the people of Canada. In western Canada we have no canals and no water transportation and the government is spending no money in providing anything of that sort. But they are providing facilities in some sections, and I think it is unfair to other sections of Canada where there is no water transportation. If the canals were made to pay interest on the cost of investment and the necessary upkeep of the staff on the canals, we might consider that we were getting a fair deal, but under the present arrangement I do not think we are. Has the minister any views to give the committee on that point?
the arrangement itself or the negotiations which led up to it. There may be something in what my hon. friend says and there may be some other reason underlying it which I am not aware of at the present time. I think I may go this far, that when the ambassador starts for Washington I will call his attention to what my hon. friend says.
Would the hon. minister not go further with reference to this Trent canal, for instance, and the Rideau canal? Are there any tolls on the boats that convey freight up and down the canals? If not, is it not creating unfair competition against our national railways operating in those regions? For the life of me I cannot see why tolls should not be charged on the canal. We would not think of building a railway right of way and allowing the railway to come along and run trains over it and pay nothing. We even go so far as to keep up the canals and pay the men who operate the locks.
pretty hard on the railways, and it is hard on the taxpayers. I find from the return before me that we have spent in Canada a grand total of $211,000,000 on canals. The interest alone on that amount is a sum that would startle the taxpayers if they really knew what they were paying, and in addition to that we have an item of $2,222,000 here for the staff. Then there will be a lot of repairs, I presume, in addition to that.
up by my hon. friend from Macleod (Mr. Coote) is disturbing the people of the Maritime provinces. When confederation took place the expense on canals was about $20,000,000. The expenditure on the railway in New Brunswick taken over at confederation was about the same amount. At that time the Intercolonial was promised, and built I think at a cost of about $147,000,000; the canals cost $211,000,000. We in the Maritime provinces feel that we get no compensation for our share in the upkeep and maintenance, and the expenditure in dredging the canal. We are made to pay the regular rate, or a proportion of rates, in those provinces, and we are taxed higher than they are in some parts of the Dominion, especially in the Northwest.
The Maritime provinces are very much interested in the matter of canals, and they feel that on account of the canal systems and the benefits they are giving to the prairie provinces in the way of getting their goods transported, as well as to Ontario, the Maritime provinces should have some consideration given to them as regards freight rates on the Intercolonial railways system of the Canadian National.